Why You Must Have A Platform If You Want To Get Paid To Do Work You Love
Hey guys! Today I want to lay out the big picture of business building for you. There is one thing that is a total must in just about any business these days, and that is a platform.
A platform is the hub where people can find you and your work, and where your other work outlets connect. You can think of this as your blueprint for finding customers, creating a web presence, and essentially being noticed in your industry.
Most likely, your platform will be your website or blog. It is the home base for all of your work, as well as the landing point for visitors.
Everything else such as social media, books you’ve written, and products for sale will start or end here.
I’ll give you a metaphor to help show you what I mean. Think of a big oak tree in the middle of summer. Your platform is the root of the tree. It saves you a spot in the world and is where your leaves and branches stem down to connect to you.
All of the ways in which you try to find new customers on the internet, such as social media and guest posts you’ve written, are the branches of your tree. Their job is to reach out and find people who are interested in your work and bring them back to your platform.
Once they reach your platform, there are a few things they should easily be able to find. The first is an About Me page, where people can get to know you and your work. The next thing they should find is a way to get in contact with you. A separate page with an email address, contact form, mailing address, and perhaps a phone number would be ideal.
The third thing new visitors should easily be able to find is your product or services information page. This will help people figure out what you are offering and what the price point is. If you offer goods or services on your site, a testimonials page is a great idea too.
People really connect with honest reviews written by others, even if those ‘others’ are strangers on the Internet. So as your business gets going and you produce quality work, don’t forget to ask your happy customers if they would mind writing you a quick testimonial, and then add it to your page.
For many businesses, content is going to be the biggest driver of new people to your platform. Whether you primarily write your content through blog posts, produce videos, podcasts, artwork, or something else, this content is the ultimate way to bring in new viewership. Content is the branches of your Business Tree. So too are posts on social media that engage your followers and encourage them to come back to your platform.
Now that you understand why you need a platform for you work to be seen and for you to make a living from your dream work, let’s talk about the how.
How To Create A Winning Platform
In Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, author Michael Hyatt digs deep into the idea of using a platform to spread your message (and products/services) to the world. I highly recommend the book and feel it does a great job of laying out all of the pieces of information you need to know.
In the meantime, I’ll give you the big tips I’ve learned through my own platform building.
Get WordPress Pro And Buy A Professional Domain Name And Template
If it makes the most sense for your platform to be a website, I highly recommend getting yourself a WordPress Pro account.
There are a number of other site builders out there, including SquareSpace and Wix, but I don’t have any experience with them so you’ll need to explore those on your own. If you aren’t technologically saavy and would like the most simple business builder in a box, I have used and would recommend Site Build It!
Once you’ve decided on a site builder, you’ll need to choose a professional looking template. This really doesn’t need to be flashy and complex. In fact, clean, light colored and easily navigable templates are in right now and they make it very easy for readers to find what they need when they come to your site.
My last tip here is to go with a professional sounding domain name. Your first and last name followed by a .com or .org is a good idea. Try to avoid impersonal domains with lots of dashes like best-personal-consulting.com. You want your readers to feel like they know you and like you.
Use A Calendar Plug-in To Schedule Posts
If you plan to post written content to your WordPress website or blog, I highly recommend that you use a scheduler. I personally use the Calendar plugin to schedule all of my posts out in advance.
Currently I schedule them to post every Monday and Thursday at 9:00 in the morning. This works well for my lifestyle because I can write at any time of day I want to, and the plugin will automatically post my drafts for me at the appropriate time. This means that I don’t have to be by my computer at any specific time to ensure that posts are being made in a timely manner.
If you are just starting out with blogging, think about committing to one post per week. I know it doesn’t sound like much right off the bat, but trust me when I say that it is a huge commitment to post 3-5 times per week, week after week.
The major search engines, especially Google, highly value a site that is updated on a regular schedule. This shows them that the site is active and serious about it’s work. It is very easy to start with one post a week and work your way up to 2 or 3 or even 4 times per week.
However, in the eyes of the search engines it is not a good thing to start out posting three times per week and then drop down to one time when you can’t keep up with the workload. Try to be really honest with yourself about the amount of time you can commit to writing before you get started.
It’s also a great idea to write some in depth posts in advance and gauge how long it takes you to write and edit, and thus how many you feel you can write per week. Personally, I post twice per week and find that it works great for me. Down the line, I may increase this to three times per week.
Set Up Your Accompanying Social Media Work Accounts
Most likely you will be using one or two social media outlets to help drive traffic to your site. In this instance, quality beats quantity. Don’t try to do ALL the social media, especially if there are ones you know nothing about.
Pick one or two that you like, are knowledgeable of, and are ones that your target readers frequent as well. Then do them right.
What do I mean by that? As with your site, post regularly. Whatever industry your dream work is in, post snippets of your content and interesting content from others as well that will help your readership with their struggles.
When you do that, they will look forward to getting social media notifications from you. I highly recommend using a social media scheduler to help you post regularly.
Here’s what I mean: On Facebook, it is recommended that you post once per day. On Twitter, it’s recommended that you post 15 times per day for best results! Instagram, twice. Pinterest, 11 times per day. Now you see how a scheduler could save your life!
The best way I have found to do social media without getting sucked into the abyss of time wastefulness is this: Plan 2-4 social media days per month and set up ALL of the posts, tweets, photos, etc for that week or two weeks into your scheduler.
This automation will keep you creating content during the other days (which is the best thing you can do to bring in potential customers) and will ensure that you can post to your chosen outlets at the right times of day, and the right number of times per day, to get the biggest bang for your buck.
Set Up Email Automation So You Own Your List
Once you have a professional website, at least three months of great content on your scheduling calendar, and your automated social media going strong, it is time to setup automated email newsletters. Don’t worry! This isn’t nearly as complicated as it sounds.
One of the biggest reasons I say that email marketing is so critical is because it allows you to own your list. When you rely solely on the search engines like Google and social media companies like Pinterest and Twitter, you are giving them complete power over your business. Should they decide (and they do!) to change their algorithms, and you lose a substantial amount of your traffic, you may be left high and dry.
If you have been collecting the email addresses of readers who love your work, however, THAT is something no one can take from you. Through email marketing, you can chat with your readers, get their opinions and take polls, and you can sell them your products or services.
Getting email automation setup in the early days is critical to your success. Without a list of people who love your work, you don’t have much when the Internet tides change. And setting up email automation is so easy! I use Aweber, but there are plenty of others to choose from.
Once you create your account, getting emails automatically sent to people who sign up is a cinch. All you have to do is write a handful of newsletters, go into your account, and add them to your email account.
You can set how often they are sent out and in what order, as well as do plenty of tracking to see how many subscribers open your emails and what they click on when they do. Email marketing is a huge topic that I couldn’t possibly fit into just one post, but suffice it to say that it will revolutionize the business aspect of your work.
Create A Product Or Service Based On What Your Tribe Wants And Needs
The moment you’ve been waiting for! Let’s be real, it takes hundreds of hours of unpaid work to get to this point. You must have a lot of motivation and drive to get here, but once you do you are truly in business. As you get feedback through your contact forms and email newsletters, you will be able to see what products and services your readers are looking for.
Whether you do consulting, or you’re a writer, an artist, etc, knowing what your people want before you create it is a huge asset. One of the biggest bummers in business is to create something that you think will be a huge hit, and then listen to crickets as everyone ignores your work.
Talk to your tribe members. Figure out what they so badly need help with. Create the things that no one else has been able to give them yet. That is what will keep you in business.
Continue Content Cycle As Your Business Grows
The branches of your Business Tree bring in a steady stream of new and interested people. Social media, a published book authored by you, guest posts, and print articles are all examples of the branches that help people find your website.
When they arrive they find interesting and helpful content on your platform, as well as your contact information. This furthers their interest and trust in what you are doing.
An email signup form in exchange for extra help and digital products encourages people to stay with you. Then, you are able to form a deep relationship with your list and sell your products to people who want what you can give.
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Don't Forget To Brand Yourself
If your product is the trunk of the tree, and the branches are what draw people to your work, then the leaves are your branding. Branding is the colors, fonts, image style, logos, watermarks, and overall “look” of your work that tells people that it is yours.
Have you ever scrolled through Pinterest and immediately known an image belonged to a blog you liked? What was it that told you upon first glance? That is branding.
When you consistently use the same colors and fonts and styles to create your work, people who are interested in you will recognize your work anywhere.
How To Tie It All Together
Your platform is the basis of your work, whether you’re a writer, designer, specialist, or something else. When you are building your platform, be sure to give yourself plenty of time and patience.
Platform building takes months, if not longer. It isn’t a quick and easy process. That being said, the work and care you put into doing it right the first time around will pay you back for years to come. Living off of your dream work is completely realistic when you have a plan set in place to find your ideal clients, make them love your work, and ultimately create products that truly help them.
Question: What part of platform building do you love, and what part is the most confusing? Let me know in the comments below!